Letter to the Editor: Why Charley Thomas changed his mind about the hospital district and became a ‘turncoat’

accesories-text-editor-hiI am a “turncoat”! I have been called a turncoat because I strongly opposed the hospital district before and I strongly support the hospital district this time.

What changed my mind?

My beef before was based on what I believed was lack of transparency in all matters, lack of a strong board of directors from the standpoint of sufficient knowledge of financial matters, and management seemingly never looking outside to what other hospitals are doing that might improve operations here.

We have a new board of directors who, I believe, have a much better grasp of financial matters. Also, there has been an operations audit by independent outside professionals. This is in addition to the annual financial audit also performed by an independent CPA firm.

While the new board has not done all I would like to see re: transparency, I expect to see even more information in the hands of the public as time goes by.

Meanwhile, a very muddy situation regarding healthcare and its costs has gotten much murkier with the advent of “Obamacare.” Whether you favor or oppose “Obamacare,” I don’t think you can deny that red tape has gotten much thicker and that understanding and complying with the new rules is much more complicated than ever.

Further, the feds promise much and deliver late and, sometimes, not as much as they promise. This makes cash planning virtually impossible.

Board oversight over hospital policies and hospital operations is much more critical than ever before.

To my knowledge none of the (Somervell) County Commissioners has ever operated a hospital. They have sufficient to worry about, including the county’s own financial problems. In my opinion, the county commissioners have not given a great deal of attention to the hospital in the past. Are we to believe that they will have more expert knowledge of hospitals and devote more attention to the hospital’s challenges than before?

The commissioners seem to get worked up only when the hospital comes “hat-in hand” for another few hundred thousand dollars. Yep, I am tired of it too! Why not give a soon-to-be-elected new board the task of balancing its own budget?

To those of you who simply say “we can’t afford the hospital” —I say just as simply — if enough of you agree, you are probably right. We can “fold up the tent as a city, draw up the drawbridge” and try to live in the past. That ain’t the way the world works. If you want a prosperous city, we must be growing and one of the principal components must be a hospital. We cannot draw in new businesses and folks to build our tax base without a positive, can-do attitude.

With respect to those of you who feel that you have had a bad experience or outcome at our hospital, I suggest you look at the record of other hospitals and you will see that none are perfect — no, not one. I have been served by our hospital, our doctors, and the medical professionals many times. My experiences have been good and I enjoy the benefits of convenience and working with neighbors who provide care and concern in addition to their professional skills.

With respect to cost of the new tax, I would cite just one extreme example based on one family that opposes the hospital district. This family’s property is valued on the tax rolls for over $430,000. The estimated amount of the new ad valorem tax for this family is about $1 per day. If your property is on the tax rolls for that much, perhaps $1 per day won’t send you to the “poor house.”

As for you folks who believe some outsider is going to come in here and bail the county out and leave us all prosperous, forget it. It won’t happen. Why would any for-profit business absorb our operations and debt unless they thought they could make money out of the deal?

Our neighbors to the north have made it clear in my mind that they want our patient base. They have said they will not duplicate services. This makes very clear to me that they want to take the patient base into their operations and cut out doctors and staff here to help their hospital prosper. In my old business we called it a “tuck-in.” They are advertising here and have clinics here. How much more do we need to know?

These same neighbors to the north have talked with our commissioners and hospital people numerous times over the last few years. However, to my knowledge they have never presented any written offer.

There is no way to negotiate with an “empty suit” — if they want to acquire us, why have they not come forward with any offer?  Oh — I have heard the excuse that they have been denied access to financial information. Baloney, whatever written information they would like may be requested though proper channels under the Freedom of Information Act.

Based on the above and other factors — not emotions — I plead guilty to being a “turncoat.”.

I ask you to think it through and vote “yes” on May 11. Better still, vote early to forming a much-needed hospital district.

The thoughts and opinions are mine alone.

Charles R. (Charley) Thomas Sr.






One Response to Letter to the Editor: Why Charley Thomas changed his mind about the hospital district and became a ‘turncoat’

  1. Larry P. Smith Reply

    May 2, 2013 at 9:46 am

    I would not call you a “turncoat”. You are right on target and intelligent people know how to change their minds when it is the right thing to do. You have presented the facts and I applaud you for it. I will call you a “a concerned citizen” who is unafraid to take a stand and speak out for the public good. Keep it up!

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